Strategies for Cultivating Culture with Remote Teams

March 31, 2020

Following the Coronavirus outbreak, remote teams seemingly went viral overnight giving many businesses very little time to prepare and putting them to a gigantic test. In times like this when everyone is scrambling to stay afloat, companies might fail to pay attention or wonder if culture should even be a consideration.

To first answer that question, it's important to understand that culture happens whether done intentionally or not. It's the result of employees' feelings and experiences working for a company. When done right, company culture energizes and empowers instead of drains and discourages.

At Hylaine, we believe that not only should culture be a consideration but that it will provide our greatest chance of success to overcoming these challenging times. During periods of instability, employees need more than ever to feel connected and valued. Engaged employees not only perform at a higher level, but maintaining relationships are key to better mental health and lower stress.

To help others, we wanted to share a few strategies and ways our team is continuing to be intentional about our culture, even when we can't engage face-to-face.

1.     Hi. Hola. Hey.

In life and business, clear and honest communication is essential to success. At Hylaine, we have our T.R.U.S.T. culture (Transparent, Results Focused, Upbeat, Solicit Feedback, Thankful). It's on our walls, our website, and is regularly highlighted in meetings as values by which we make business decisions, our attitude toward client service, and how our employees should operate. Over the past several weeks we have taken extra steps to ensure we are communicating better than ever to our employees (and our clients). We want them to know we are here for them, through good and bad. Of course, we prefer to be celebrating success, but durable companies are built for the tough times as well. In addition to reinforcing T.R.U.S.T., we also make sure employees know they are appreciated and provide regular reminders to get out for walks and to make self-care a priority. We all need to be at our best in order to persevere together.

2.     Physically Apart. Technically Together.

Without workplace relationships and employee interaction, it's almost impossible to have a healthy company culture. Just because "Social Distancing" has become our new temporary norm, it doesn't mean we cannot continue to facilitate social interactions.

We have a team who is specifically tasked with finding creative ways to engage and employees are highly encouraged to participate. In the wake of the Coronavirus, we've transitioned these initiatives to virtual encounters. Of course, we are using Zoom for regular staff and client meetings, but we are also utilizing the tool for virtual happy hours, yoga workouts, and educational sessions around topics that matter to employees such as financial advice and mindfulness tips. Additionally, we have regularly scheduled Spirit Days where we ask teams to share photos wearing their favorite sports team gear, spending time with family, or ways they are helping others.

3.     Start at the Top

Take a peek behind the curtain of any company that has a culture filled with gossip, whispered conversations, and blame shifting, and you can certainly trace it back to the top. Healthy culture comes from steady leaders who are good listeners, personable, and approachable.

Leadership at Hylaine begins with our CEO and extends out to the rest of the team. Our leaders are consistently checking in with team members and are present in online tools and in company engagement activities. Leaders also share their personal side and encourage shout outs and praise across the company.

4.     Yep, there's an app for that!

In fact, there are a lot of them. At Hylaine we are technology agnostic, which means we evaluate business environments first and then make the recommendation for which tools will perform best. For our own business, our goal is to leverage technology to drive business efficiency and collaboration. Hylaine is built to provide an effective virtual work environment regardless of physical work location. In addition to the aforementioned use of Zoom, we also utilize Microsoft Teams, Azure DevOps and SharePoint. The chat functionality of Teams provides the ease of having threaded conversations and messaging all in one place, while SharePoint is a secure document manager that integrates easily with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Azure DevOps provides integrated work management, code management, and enables CI/CD for our technology solutions.

We are constantly evaluating available tools both for our own use and for clients. The options that exist are numerous and effective implementation can get confusing. We're here to help you if you want insight around the tools that might be best for your business or simply want to brainstorm ways to instill remote work practices and drive company culture.

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